NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – After years of tension, a scouting organization has lost its affiliation with the Commission on United Methodist Men and other United Methodist organizations.

The National Association of United Methodist Scouters is no longer affiliated with the commission, the National Association of Conference Presidents of United Methodist Men and the United Methodist Men Foundation, said in an April 10 news release.

Because the association has no formal relationship with any national entity of The United Methodist Church, the statement said, it is “prohibited from using the United Methodist name and logo.”

Leaders of both United Methodist Men and the national association said that the dispute has absolutely nothing to do with the controversial decision made last year by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America to lift a ban on gay members. 

At heart, leaders say, the dispute is about the role of an affiliate of an agency in The United Methodist Church.

“Are they a subordinate group that is meant to provide assistance and manpower for what the board is doing?” said Gil Hanke, the top executive of the Commission of United Methodist Men. “Or are they to have a relationship that is different, which is controlling part of the ministry of one of the boards and agencies?”

Phil Craig, president of the national association, said members of his group feel that the commission “wants to dictate everything we do, and we think that’s wrong.”

Craig is a lifelong United Methodist, an Eagle Scout and former Scoutmaster. He continues to serve on the board of the National Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts’ honor society.

Both Craig and Hanke agreed they expect the change to have little impact on the youth-service organizations supported by local United Methodist churches. But they also agreed the break is regrettable.

Ultimately, Hanke said he expected the commission’s office of scouting ministries to continue the work without the association’s help. “All the tasks that were part of scouting ministries six months ago are continuing and continuing to expand,” Hanke said.

The national association is about 30 years old, said Craig. Minutes from a 2012 meeting showed the group had 416 total members. The group predates the founding of the Commission on United Methodist Men, which General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body, established as a general church agency in 1996.

This loss of affiliation directly affects The Pathfinder Chapter of the National Association of United Methodist Scouters here in Indiana. The Indiana Conference is in discussion with the leaders of this Indiana Chapter. The Rev. Curtis Hurley, pastor of Fountain City UMC, is currently president of the Pathfinder Chapter.

Heather Hahn serves as a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service.


Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Gil Hanke of United Methodist Men speaks about scouting ministries during the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Fla. United Methodist Men has dropped its affiliation with the National Association of United Methodist Scouters.